Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

The Man Stands Down

January 7, 2006

The Father-in-Law reached a milestone yesterday when he walked away from his desk for the last time. Twenty-eight years of hard work, bleary night shifts, and seemingly unending stints where he would work 12-hour shifts straight for weeks upon end. All to give stability and security and education and blessings without end to his family members (and the adopted– but no less valued– ones like me). And even more, to keep the lights of the world on and make a major contribution to the safety and security and future of our country. Now, he’s giving away his Franklin , taking a bit more charge of his schedule and life, and enjoying the rewards of his hard work and self-sacrifice.

That kind of character and perseverance and determination is far too rare in this world, and certainly in me. His life stands as a quiet yet powerful critique of many of our social ills, even as it gives hope that we’re capable of so much more than we might first imagine.

My hat’s off to him.

Here’s the song I sent him to celebrate:

ONEY
Written by Jerry Chestnut
Recorded by Johnny Cash

I dedicate this song to the workin’ man
For ever’ man that puts in a hard
Eight or ten hours a day of work and toil and sweat
Always got somebody lookin’ down his neck
Tryin’ to get more out of ‘im
Than he really ought to have to put in.

After twenty-nine long years of workin’
In this shop with Oney standin’ over me …
Today when that old whistle blows
I’ll check in all my gear and I’ll retire …

The superintendent just dropped by and said
They’d planned my little get together …
Then he said I’d never a made it
If old Oney hadn’t held me to the fire.

I’ve seen him in my dreams at night
And woke up in the mornin’ feelin’ tired …
And old Oney don’t remember, when I came here
How he tried to get me fired …
With his folded hands behind him
Every mornin’ Oney waited at the gate …
Where he’d rant and rave like I committed murder
Clockin’ in five minutes late.

But today they’ll gather ’round me
Like I’ve seen ‘em do when any man retires
Then old Oney’s gonna tell me
From now on I’m free to do what I desire …

He’ll present me with that little old gold watch
They give a man at times like this …
But there’s one thing he’s not countin’ on
Today’s the day I give old Oney his.

I’ve been workin’, buildin’ muscles
Oney’s just been standin’ ’round a gettin’ soft
And today about four-thirty
I’ll make up for every good night’s sleep I’ve lost …
When I’m gone I’ll be remembered
As the workin’ man who put his point across
With a right hand full of knuckles
‘Cause today I show old Oney who’s the boss.

Hmmmm! What time is it? Four thirty!
Hey, Oney!
Oney! Ha ha ha ha!

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